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SU physics students will be among those watching, studying eclipse

SU Physics Lab Manager Sam Samphere demonstrates the mechanics of a solar eclipse as third year grad student Bridget Mack, left, and junior Nico O'Neil observe Apr. 4,2024.
Scott Willis
SU Physics Lab Manager Sam Samphere demonstrates the mechanics of a solar eclipse as third year grad student Bridget Mack, left, and junior Nico O'Neill observe Apr. 4,2024.

Syracuse University physics students will be among those watching and studying today’s eclipse. They’ve been using models in a lab to simulate how the earth and moon interact to create the rare occasion of a total solar eclipse. WAER News caught up with third year graduate student Bridget Mack, Junior Nico O’Neill, and SU physics lab manager Sam Samphere. Bridget Mack says the eclipse is a great way to put the science to work and share it with others.

"It's not often that we get a giant experiment involving our sun and our moon and our planet and everyone on the earth that can see it," Mack said. "So it's a great way to show what we do in the lab and also connect with greater audiences."

Nico O'Neill says there are interesting things to look for.

"There are different characteristics to the eclipse, so if people have really good cameras or telescopes and they can view it when it's at totality a little bit clearer, there's different things you can see," O'Neill. "For example, an interesting way that the light interacts with the crater on the moon is you can see these little like beads around, kind of where the light is shining through around the corona."

But lab manager Sam Samphere encourages casual observers to simply savor the spectacle.

"Unless you you are a professional photographer slash astronomer, put the cameras away, put the telescope away and observe the eclipse" Samphere said. "We get a short time. You don't want to be fussing with your camera during that time. Save those images for the professional photographers because the web is going to be loaded with those images. You want to remember this. Enjoy it."

Nico O'Neill says it'll be an exciting day for everyone.

"The university is going to be doing a big event on the quad, so everyone is going to be out there looking at it," O'Neill said. "We'll have eclipse glasses for people, and we'll also be running like demonstrations, having little events. Hopefully people from the community outside of the university will also be coming to watch with us"

Bridget Mack says the wide appeal of the celestial event is what brings people together.

"The eclipse itself is very interdisciplinary, right? And that's the nature of the eclipse itself," Mack said. "It's a large event. There's lots of people that are studying it in different aspects. There are a lot of people that are just engaging just just to learn. So you get people from all different backgrounds and all different levels of education that are coming together. So it really is an interdisciplinary way to meet new people and get new experiences, and we're all going to be physicists for a day. It's going to be great!

The partial eclipse in the Syracuse area begins Monday at 2:09 p.m., and ends at 4:34. The total eclipse starts at 3:23 and lasts for about 90 seconds.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at